TitleNegotiating family and prison behind the wall
NameThomas, Shenique Shantelle (author), Christian, Johnna R (chair), Veysey, Bonita M (internal member), Maxfield, Michael (internal member), Arditti, Joyce (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - Newark,
Prisoners--Family relationships--United States,
DescriptionThe more than two million incarcerated persons in U.S. prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities are not isolated individuals existing in a vacuum, but are embedded in larger intricate family systems nested within a macrosystem. Incarceration significantly transforms familial relationships by altering the function, formation, and organization of the family system. The institutions of prison and family require differing role obligations and adhere to disparate value orientations. Despite the requirements of correctional institutions, it is imperative for inmates to remain embedded in pro-social familial roles for myriad reasons, including: the family unit informs individuals of their expected role behaviors and obligations, the maintenance of inmate-family relationships is cited as facilitating positive in-prison behavior and successful reintegration, and prisoners are likely to rely on their families to provide support post-incarceration. The dissertation research extends criminological works by uncovering the strategies utilized by prisoners to manage the simultaneous enactment and performance of prison and familial roles during visitation sessions when directly faced with conflicting role expectations, and throughout the prison sentence. The research draws on 25 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with male prisoners, 12 hours of observations at prison visitation sessions, and a prisoner focus group conducted at a New Jersey state male prison. The qualitative study, guided by a grounded theory methodological approach, was informed using an integration of role strain and role transition theories. The data analysis revealed the emergence of four role negotiator categories -- Sustainer, Deserter, Dependent, and Restorer -- embedded in a typology labeled as the Incarcerated Role Negotiator (IRN). Participants were grouped into IRN categories based on the demonstrated form of negotiation implemented to manage the incompatible role sets. The defining features of Incarcerated Role Negotiators centered on (a) pre-prison investments in the family, (b) role performances and behaviors, (c) contact with role senders, and (d) self-identity. The identification of Incarcerated Role Negotiators begins to address the knowledge gap in research pertaining to prisoner-family relationships and gives voice to the often neglected marginalized group of incarcerated individuals. Furthermore, the findings have several practical and policy implications for local, state, and federal agencies that manage correctional populations.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Shenique Shantelle Thomas
CollectionGraduate School - Newark Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.